Ski Resorts Continuing With Upgrades While Others Put Them on Hold

Ryan Flynn | | Industry NewsIndustry News
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Sun Valley Resort’s Bald Mountain Expansion is currently underway. Credit: Sun Valley Resort

This summer there is no lack of news surrounding ski resort upgrades. Not all of the news is good, as some resorts are putting a hold on their upgrade plans for the moment due to the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down ski areas in mid-March 2020.

Here is a list of western U.S. ski resorts that are either expanding, updating existing lifts, or putting projects on hold.

Resorts Upgrading:

  • Sun Valley Resort, Idaho:
    • Expansion/Changes: Replacing Cold Springs lift with a new detachable quad. The new chairlift will load 4,200 feet below the existing placement. This will allow easier access to Bald Mountain Ridge. Additionally, the resort will open more advanced and expert terrain from the top of Seattle Ridge.
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2019-2020 Trail map of Sun Valley Resort. New detachable quad in the lower left and new terrain expansion in light green. Credit: Sun Valley Resort.
  • Arapahoe Basin, CO:
    • Expansion/Changes: Arapahoe Basin is moving ahead with the new Pallivicinni Chair. The chairlift is a staple of the mountain and an all-time favorite of mine. Do not worry, the terrain will not be changed and the chairlift is simply being replaced by a new model. The chairlift will remain a fixed-grip double so the experience will feel exactly the same. Additionally, the resort’s beginner chairlift, Molly Hogan, will be replaced with a fixed-grip quad.
  • Aspen Snowmass, CO:
    • Expansion/Changes: Aspen Snowmass is replacing the Big Burn Lift with a high-speed six-seat detachable lift. The lower terminal will move up the mountain and give better access to intermediate and advanced terrain.
  • Timberline, OR:
    • Expansion/Changes: Timberline’s oldest chairlift, Pucci Chairlift (built in 1956), will be replaced with a new detachable quad. This will provide easier access to terrain below the main lodge. Additionally, the Palmer Lift on the upper mountain, which was damaged last season, will be repaired and upgraded.
Timberline’s Pucci Chairlift will be replaced this summer with a new detachable quad. Credit: Timberline Lodge & Ski Area
  • Arizona Snowbowl, AZ:
    • Expansion/Changes: Arizona Snowbowl is getting a new Chondola (Part Gondola/Part Chairlift). The new lift will offer 8 person gondolas between every other six-person chair. This will replace the existing Aggasiz Chair. The best part is that it will reduce the time to the summit by half.
Construction is underway for Arizona Snowbowl’s new Chondola. Credit: Arizona Snowbowl

Resorts Postponing Upgrades:

  • Breckenridge, CO:
    • The new four-person chair planned from the base of Zendo Chair to the top of Independence SuperChair will be put on hold. This new chair is designed to help reduce congestion in the base area of Peak 7. Visitors will have to wait at least another season before they will see this new lift installed and running.
  • Keystone, CO:
    • The planned 6-person Peru Lift will not be installed this summer. This update is designed to reduce congestion at the base of the lift.
  • Beaver Creek, CO:
    • Two new chairlifts are being put on hold at Beaver Creek. The McCoy Park expansion is being put on hold due to COVID-19. This expansion will eventually open two chairlifts (both new 4-person chairlifts), 17 new trails, and 250 acres of new terrain. Terrain will include grommed beginner terrain and intermediate glades. You are probably noticing a trend in postponements at Vail Resorts locations. Vail Resorts has deferred half a dozen projects due to COVID-19 and there is limited information on when they will be completed.
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McCoy Park upgrades put on hold at Beaver Creek. Credit: Beaver Creek
  • Mammoth Mountain, CA:
    • Mammoth Mountain has announced that it will postpone the replacement of both Broadway Express and Canyon Express Chairlifts. The replacement would make both chairs 6-person detachable lifts.
  • Nordic Valley, UT:
    • Utah’s, Nordic Valley has announced that its plans to open a new 5-person chairlift will be postponed. The new chair would open roughly 350 acres of new terrain for the resort. Nordic Valley has extensive expansion plans to open over 2,800 acres of new terrain. You can find this master plan here.
  • Big Sky, MT:
    • Big Sky planned on upgrading the Swift Current Chair with a new Doppelmayr D-Line 6-pack chair (One of the most technologically advanced chairlifts in the world). The chair has already been custom manufactured for the resort, but the installation has been postponed till the summer of 2021. You might see some minor construction this summer once health officials deem it safe to start, but the lift will be completed for the 2021-2022 season.

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6 thoughts on “Ski Resorts Continuing With Upgrades While Others Put Them on Hold

  1. Kudos to SNOWBOWL, AZ. our hometown mountain! They have been continuously updating the resort for years.

  2. I’d like to share with you, Sun Peaks Resort (sunpeaksresort.com) is continuing with the upgrade and realignment of the Crystal Chairlift. Following up on significant infrastructure improvements in recent years, Sun Peaks Resort is pleased to announce replacement plans for the Crystal chairlift at Canada‚Äôs Second Largest Ski Area. The new lift will be a Doppelmayr fixed grip quad that will increase uphill capacity by 20%. A key feature of the project is a lift realignment that will see the top terminal relocated to the Top of the World on Mt. Tod, providing enhanced and more convenient access to a much larger pod of ski terrain at this slightly higher elevation.

    1. Hi Dennis,

      This is not an inclusive list at all, but some of the major projects that I could find in the United States. Thanks for the information about Sun peaks! That sounds like a great upgrade for the resort!

  3. Isnt Squaw planning on moving big blue to replace the old three person fixed grip emigrant chair?
    What about the new red dog chair that was approved with permits for red dog in 2011?
    Oh and of course the highly needed base to base gondola between Squaw and Alpine meadows.
    Havent they started construction at least on that yet?

    1. Hi Need to know!

      As for the Squaw-Alpine Gondola there is no set construction schedule out. The project has been approved but there is no further information that I could find about it. As for Red Dog, you are correct that they are planning on replacing the chair with a 6-person lift. Unfortunately, there is also a lack of information on when this will happen. As for Big Blue, I have not seen any updates on that project and I was unaware of that happening. I focused on plans definitive for this coming season and those projects have little to no set schedules out yet. Thanks for the comment!

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